Thursday, December 20, 2012

Let Their Names Live On

Fifteen of the twenty children killed: (Top row from left) Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Ana Marquez-Green. (Middle row from left) Dylan Hockley, Catherine Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, James Mattioli. (Bottom row from left) Grace McDonnell, Emilie Parker, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos

We were all shocked and saddened by the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last week. Yes, I was taking a blogging break, but this is simply too important. It's been nearly a week, and it's still hard to comprehend this atrocity.

I'm not going to get into a discussion here of the many issues involved but I'm sure we can all agree that this massacre was a tipping point for a lot of Americans.  I've decided that I will refuse to utter the name of the shooter and instead choose to learn and remember the names of the victims at the school:

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Ana Marquez-Greene, 6

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

James  Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonell, 7
Emilie Parker, 6
  Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6 

Rachel Davino, 29, Teacher
Dawn Hochsprung, 47, School Principal
Anne Marie Murphy, 52, Teacher
Lauren Rousseau, 30, Teacher
Mary Sherlach, 56, School psychologist
Victoria Soto, 27, Teacher

What can we do that's positive?  Shelley Moore Thomas, a teacher as well as a writer, suggests doing good.  Ann Curry started #26acts of Kindness to honor the victims.  Many groups are collecting funds, but the best suggestion I've seen so far was in an article by Judith Rosen in PW's Children's Bookshelf this week. We're all book lovers here. Donating books to preserve the memories of the children (and teachers) who died is one of the most positive things you can do right now. Let their names live on! You could donate to Newtown, CT schools or to your own local schools or libraries. I plan to donate some picture books to my local library and elementary school in memory of the children.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What I've Read So Far -- And a January challenge

Drum roll, please! Here is a list of all the books I've read in 2012 (divided up by months and not counting picture books. And please note that most of these were arcs, unless otherwise noted):

1. Cinder - Marissa Meyer
2. The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
3. A Diamond in the Dust - Kathryn Fitzmaurice
4. Chomp - Carl Hiaasen
5. Because of Winn Dixie - Kate DiCamillo
6. Looking for Alaska - John Green
7. Gil Marsh - A.C.E. Bauer
8. Never Fall Down - Patricia McCormick
9. Jake & Lily - Jerry Spinelli

10. What the Dog Said - Randi Reisfield
11. So Close to You - Rachel Carter
12. Breathing Lessons - Anne Tyler (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
13. Wonder - R.J. Palacio
14. Curveball: How I Lost My Grip - Jordan Sonnenblick

15. Breath of Eyre - Eve Marie Mont
16. critique partner's MG novel
17. Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator - Josh Berk
18. Embrace - Jessica Shirvington
19. Insurgent - Veronica Roth
20. Kaspar the Titanic Cat - Michael Morpurgo
21. Small Damages - Beth Kephart
22. The Year of the Book - Andrea Chang
23. Remarkable - Lizzie K. Foley

24. The Wicked and the Just - J. Anderson Coats
25. Summer of the Gypsy Moths - Sara Pennypacker
26. Drowned Cities - Paolo Bacigalupi
27. Starters - Lissa Price
28. The False Prince - Jennifer Nielson
29. Chains - Laurie Halse Anderson
30. My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick

31. Devine Intervention - Martha Brockenbrough
32. The Patron Saint of Beans (now called If You Find Me) - Emily Murdoch
33. Keeping the Castle - Patrice Kindl
34. Don't Turn Around - Michelle Gagnon
35. Gilt - Katherine Longshore
36. Lucid - Adrienne Stolz and Ron Bass
37. The Mapmaker & the Ghost - Sarvenaz Tash
38. A World Away - Nancy Grossman
39. Keeping Safe the Stars - Sheila O'Connor
40. Gold Medal Summer - Donna Freitas
41. The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy - Nikki Loftin
42. This is Not a Drill - Beck McDowell
43. Tiger Lily - Jodi Lynn Anderson

44. Jump Into the Sky - Shelley Pearsall
45. Noah's Compass - Anne Tyler (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
46. What Came From the Stars - Gary D. Schmidt
47. Forge - Laurie Halse Anderson
48. Grave Mercy - Robin LaFevers
49. Son - Lois Lowry
50. Ungifted - Gordon Korman
51. Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein
52. Capture the Flag - Kate Messner
53. Edge of Nowhere - Elizabeth George

54. Nerve - Jeanne Ryan
55. Burning Blue - Paul Griffin
56. The Great Unexpected - Sharon Creech
57. Malcolm at Midnight - W. H. Beck
58. Ten - Gretchen McNeil
59. Lindsey Lost - Suzanne Phillips
60. The Diviners - Libba Bray
61. Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker

62. What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang
63. critique partner's YA novel
64. Third Grade Angels - Jerry Spinelli
65. Beholding Bee - Kimberly Newton Fusco
66. Space Station Seventh Grade - Jerry Spinelli
67. The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver
68. Every Day - David Levithan

69. Empty - K.M. Walton
70. If I Lie - Corrine Jackson
71. True Colors - Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
72. Popular - Alissa Grosso (paperback I purchased at PAYA)
73. Pretty Crooked -- Elisa Ludwig (hardcover I purchased at PAYA)
74. Dying to Know You - Aidan Chambers
75. Seven Tales of Trinket -- Shelley Moore Thomas (hardcover purchased from indie bookstore)
76. Glass Heart -- Amy Garvey
77. Unspoken -- Sarah Rees Brennan
78. Liar & Spy -- Rebecca Stead

79. The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons - Barbara Mariconda
80. Lovely, Dark and Deep -- Amy McNamara (hardcover from S&S)
81. Breathe - Sarah Crossan
82. A Dog Called Homeless -- Sarah Lean
83. Geeks, Girls and Secret Identities -- Mike Jung (hardcover purchased from indie bookstore)
84. Touching the Surface - Kim Sabatini (hardcover from S&S)
85. Ask the Passengers - A.S. King
86. The Secret Underground - Natalie Bahm (paperback purchased to help Baby Jayden)
87. The Brides of Rollrock Island

88. Double Vision - F.T. Bradley
89. The Tide-Changers -- Sandy Green (paperback purchased from Amazon)
90. Through to You - Emily Hainsworth
91. The Flight - C.F. Runyan (old paperback I've read before)
92. Circle of Secrets - Kimberley Griffiths Little (hardcover won from Deb Marshall)
93. A Tale of Time City - Diana Wynne Jones (paperback purchased from indie bookstore)
94. A Thunderous Whisper - Christina Diaz Gonzalez (hardcover won from Medeia Sharif)
95. Recipe for Trouble - Sheryl Berk & Carrie Berk (paperback won from Jennifer Rumberger)
96. Hokey Pokey - Jerry Spinelli

97. Hattie Ever After - Kirby Larson
98. When We Wake - Karen Healy
99. Dead End in Norvelt - Jack Gantos
100. A String in the Harp - Nancy Bond (paperback lent by a friend)
101. Storm in the Barn - Matt Phelan

So I've read more than 100 books and December isn't over yet. If you have questions about any of these books, feel free to ask!  Which one's my favorite?  Oh gosh, I couldn't possibly pick ONE favorite. For YA, I'd have to say The Fault in Our Stars, but Small Damages and Devine Intervention both hold a special place in my heart. For MG, I love Wonder, but also What Came From the Stars, and Malcolm at Midnight. Of course, I also loved The One and Only Ivan (but I read it last year!). One of those books had better win a Newbery.

For the next few weeks I'll be taking a blogging break to spend time with my family and to work on my third novel. In January,  I hope to be querying my second novel, but I'm also joining Katia Raina's 31-Minute a Day Challenge.  If you've never checked out Katia's blog, you should hop right over there. She's a lovely young writer I met at the New Jersey SCBWI conference last year, and her first novel is coming from namelos in 2013! Join the challenge! All it takes is a commitment to work on your project (whatever it is) for 31 minutes a day, every day, throughout the month of January. And there's a prize for a random winner at the end! Sign up on Katia's blog.
See you in a few weeks. Enjoy your holidays!

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Thunderous Whisper -- and an interview!

Yes, it's another Marvelous Middle Grade Monday!  UPDATED TO INCLUDE INTERVIEW!

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. For other participants see my sidebar or Shannon's links.

A Thunderous Whisper by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (Knopf, October 2012, for ages 10 and up)

Source: hardcover won from Medeia Sharif's blog (and if you haven't checked out her blog, you should! She's the author of Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. and she reads more than anyone I know.)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): Ani believes she is just an insignificant whisper of a 12-year-old girl in a loud world. This is what her mother tells her anyway. Her father made her feel important, but he's been off fighting in Spain's Civil War, and his voice in her head is fading. Then she meets Mathias. His family has just moved to Guernica and he's as far from a whisper as a 14-year-old boy can be. Ani thinks Mathias is more like lightning. A boy of action. Mathias's father is part of a spy network and soon Ani finds herself helping him deliver messages to other members of the underground. She's actually making a difference in the world.

And then her world explodes. The sleepy little market town of Guernica is destroyed by Nazi bombers. In one afternoon Ani loses her city, her home, her mother. But in helping the other survivors, Ani gains a sense of her own strength. And she and Mathias make plans to fight back in their own unique way.

Why I liked it: This is historical fiction as it was meant to be. Gripping. Moving. Beautifully written. The Spanish Civil War and the plight of the Basques come alive through Ani. Before reading this, I knew absolutely nothing about Guernica, other than the fact that Pablo Picasso created a famous painting about it. And if you're looking for multi-cultural books, you can't go wrong with this one. (Parental note: This might be a bit scary for younger readers, with the descriptions of dead bodies after the bombing.)

Christina Diaz Gonzalez (from her website)
You can find the Author's website here.

Christina is the author of The Red Umbrella, which I reviewed for my very first MMGM (you can see that in this post from November 29, 2010 -- sheesh, have I really been doing this for more than two years?!).  And now, I'm updating this post to add a mini-interview with Christina Diaz Gonzalez. 

1) Tell us a little about your research. It must have been daunting! Did it take you months or years? What was it like to travel to Guernica and see these sites with your own eyes?

 The preliminary research took a few months and then I added more detail and fine-tuning once I went to Guernica myself. The trip there was amazing (although way too short) and the people were fantastic. They were so incredibly friendly and helpful... really gave me a sense of understanding what it was like during that time period.

2) Do you outline your novels before beginning to write? 

 I never outline my novels before writing but I do know how the book will end. It keeps me going in a certain direction.

3) As a pantser, I'm happy to hear that. I love the character of Ani and how much she grows and changes. I also loved Mathias. Is there any of you in Ani? And is Mathias like anyone you know?

 There is always a little of me in my characters.

4) Can you tell us what we can expect from you next? Will it be another historical novel?

I'm working on a contemporary/ quest-like story. It has a touch of historical to it, also. More than that, I can't talk about!

That's understandable, Christine. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

Readers, be sure to come back on Friday December 14, when I'll be listing all the books I've read this year. That will be my last post before January, as I'll be taking a blogging break to work on the rough of my third MG novel.

What historical fiction have you read recently or look forward to reading?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Looking for Holiday Gift Books?

Today, I'm hanging out over at Random Acts of Reading, where the book blogger panel is discussing gifts for the holidays. Come join us!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Winner -- and Hokey Pokey MMGM-style

First, I have a winner to announce.  According to, the winner of the paperback of SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES is:

Jennifer Rumberger

Congrats, Jennifer, and expect an email from me asking for your address!  

Now on to today's book recommendation:

Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli (coming January 8, 2013 from Knopf, for ages 10 and up)

Source: advanced reading copy from publisher

Synopsis: Jack wakes up one morning and everything is different. His beloved bike, Scramjet, is gone. Stolen by The Girl, Jubilee.

Without his bike, nothing feels right to Jack.

In Hokey Pokey, Spinelli has imagined a world where childhood is a place, not a time. It's like one huge funscape. (Note that the map wasn't in the arc, so I can't wait to see the finished book!) There's an actual Playground, but also the Jungle, the Great Plains, Tantrums, Snuggle Stop (because Spinelli wisely realizes every kid needs a hug in the dark), Thousand Puddles, Cartoons, a Doll Farm, Trucks, The Forbidden Hut, the giant statue of The Kid, and much more. There are no grownups except the Hokey Pokey man, who arrives to hand out shaved ice treats every day at noon, when the sun is high in the sky. Any flavor you imagine is available.

It never rains in Hokey Pokey (yet those Thousand Puddles are always there, and one of the four Rules states, "Never pass a puddle without stomping in it."). A kid grows from a Newbie, just out of diapers, to a Snotsipper, then a Gappergum, a Sillynilly, a Longspitter, a Groundhog chaser, and finally a Big Kid. Jack's a Big Kid, and something is off today. He can't quite put his finger on it, but games aren't as much fun, and he keeps hearing a train whistle that no one else hears.

In Hokey Pokey, bikes are wild mustangs roaming the Great Plains. Scramjet was the most powerful black and silver stallion of all and Jack tamed him. But now Jubilee is riding Scramjet. She even had the gall to paint him yellow and girl him up with pink handlebars and pom-poms.

His best friends, Dusty and LaJo, help Jack look for the bike, but they also notice something different about him. As the day wears on, it's not the bike Jack thinks about, but that faraway train whistle.

Interestingly, this is the advanced reading copy cover - and I prefer this one!

Why I liked it: Filled with inventive wordplay, this is a nostalgic look at an ideal childhood spent mostly outdoors, where distance is measured in spit lengths or frog flings. Where every kid has a bike, a cap gun and a slingshot. Where cartoons play all day long on a giant screen, yet there are no computers or video games.  This is all bittersweet because it's also about growing up and leaving.

This isn't everyone's childhood, but Jerry Spinelli does an excellent job of convincing you this is what childhood feels like. This is what it's about. Or perhaps what it should be about. 

Does anyone play outside anymore?

What would you add to Hokey Pokey? I'd include a huge library where every book you want to look at is always available. Sure, I spent my share of childhood outdoors, climbing trees and running races and playing King of the Hill, but I also remember many happy hours spent reading. And before I could read, I followed my mother around with a book in my hands and begged, "Read this to me?" That's the one thing I think is missing here. (Instead, in Spinelli's inventive world every kid carries a walnut shell. When held to your ear, the shell tells you The Story, but it's the same story every night. The story of The Kid. As beautiful as that is, I would want different stories every day.)

I'm sure my sons would add a video game area. What about you?

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. She has all the links, or you can check out my sidebar.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Artifacts and Lies Blog Tour -- and a Giveaway!

As part of the Artifacts and Lies blog tour, I'm happy to welcome Jordan Jacobs, real-life archaeologist and the author of SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES (Sourcebooks, October, 2012)

First, let me tell you about his book:

Samantha Sutton is a curious, headstrong twelve-year-old girl. She wants to be an archaeologist just like her Uncle Jay. When he offers to take her on one of his digs in Peru that summer, she jumps at the chance. The catch? Her older brother, who loves teasing her, comes along too. Not only that, but she has to work with her uncle's grouchy assistant. And then artifacts start to disappear from the dig site.

Combining history, mystery, and heart-racing adventure, Jordan Jacobs weaves a plot full of non-stop fun and incredible facts in Samantha Sutton and the Labyrinth of Lies. If you like Nancy Drew and other mysteries, you'll love this book. I received the galley from netgalley, courtesy of the publisher. 

Ever wonder what it’d be like to be an archaeologist, to travel to exotic places and dig into the mysteries of centuries old civilizations? For today's guest post, Jordan explains what a day in the life of an archaeologist is really like.

Jordan Jacobs (from his website)

Just Another Day at the Office

The movies don’t get everything wrong when it comes to archaeology.   Even in real life, there’s plenty of adventure to be found.  

As an archaeologist, I’ve gotten to work high in the Andes at Chavin de Huantar—crawling through unexplored tunnels full of bats and rubble and scattered human bones. I’ve excavated Crustumerium, just north of Rome, where Bronze Age peoples lie at rest in a sprawling city of the dead. I’ve worked in the United States as well, clearing cemeteries in advance of major construction projects, excavating cliff dwellings, and digging the toilet of a California governor from the wreckage of his earthquake-totalled mansion.

But of course, this sort of adventure is only part of the job.  

An archaeologist’s task is to study past cultures through what they’ve left behind.  These pieces of evidence—or “artifacts”—can be as big as an Egyptian pyramid or as small as a speck of pollen, stuck to an ancient cooking pot.   But the information they contain can be surprising.  Archaeologists can use these artifacts to reconstruct how people once lived—from the food they ate, to the way they fought, to the religions that they practiced and their views of the world around them.

The archaeologist’s “typical day” takes a variety of forms.  Some work mostly in the field--surveying the land, digging precise excavation units into the earth, looking for patterns, making comparisons, and drawing careful conclusions from whatever pieces of the past still remain.  Others work in laboratories, using the tools of science to discover how old an object is, exactly what it’s made of, or precisely where it came from.  Still others spend their days in museum storerooms, re-examining the evidence recovered by their predecessors.  And some archaeologists work with governments and companies in order to protect sites from destruction through development, looting, neglect, or war.

But archaeology also carries a lot of responsibility.  One awkward truth is that excavation destroys sites, meaning that each particular discovery can be made only once.  It’s up to the archaeologist to record everything he or she can--otherwise, that information is lost forever.  Just as importantly, archaeologists have a responsibility to the people who live nearby the site, or who claim it as their ancestors’.  

At its best, archaeology is a little like time travel. Holding an artifact in your hand can make you feel a connection to someone who lived centuries or millennia before. It’s intimate.  It’s humbling.  Seeing the fingerprint of a potter on the surface of a plain and broken pot is a reminder of the humanity all people share--no matter where, or when, we live.  

*   *   *   *   *

Ooo, I love time travel, so I guess that means I love archaeology too! Thanks for joining us today, Jordan.

Readers, Sourcebooks has generously offered to give away a paperback copy of SAMANTHA SUTTON AND THE LABYRINTH OF LIES to one lucky winner from the U.S. or Canada (sorry, Sourcebooks won't mail outside of the US or Canada).  To enter, you must be a follower and comment on this post.  You have until Saturday, December 1 at 10 pm EST. Remember, only US and Canada addresses, please.  Winner will be chosen by and announced on Monday, December 3.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Oh, the irony!

How odd to be mentioned in a book.

Starting on p. 183 of MY BOOKSTORE: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop (Black Dog & Leventhal, Nov. 13, 2012), Philadelphia news personality Larry Kane shares his enthusiasm for Chester County Book & Music Company. And along with such key employees as Michael Fortney, he mentions... me.

It's ironic, of course, because I no longer work there. So I've decided to treat this as a tribute to the ten years of hard work I put in there, trying to make order out of chaos and helping customers find just the right book.

This isn't the first time I've seen my name in a published book, and I hope it won't be the last. Having reviewed all five volumes in Suzanne Collins' Underland Chronicles for Booksense (now called Indiebound), I was quoted in a compilation volume. And believe it or not, Booksense Best Children's Books is still available through Indiebound!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Blogger Natalie Bahm visits for MMGM

Today, I'm honored to have a guest blogger: Natalie Bahm, author of THE SECRET UNDERGROUND, published by NLA Digital Liaison Platform LLC (September 28, 2012)

First, let me tell you about her book:
Twelve-year-old Ally is the only witness to a bank robbery in her small town. Unable to block out the memory of the robbers, a notorious gang known as the Gauze Men, Ally joins her little brother and a bunch of neighborhood boys digging a hole in her backyard. Only the hole isn't just a hole - it's a massive set of tunnels snaking beneath the neighborhood and heading for an abandoned steel mill. Ally is old enough to know the danger, but she reasons spending time with sixth-grade heartthrob Paul is more fun than sitting at home with her worries. And dangerous it is - none of the kids' parents realize the tunnels exist, but the Gauze Men might.

I've just finished reading the book and it's filled with adventure and excitement... and mud! And every kid loves mud.  I know when I was 10 or 11, I would have adored the idea of digging tunnels under the backyard. When I heard the extraordinary story of how and why this book was published (and where the proceeds are going), I bought the book from Amazon to show my support  -- if you know me, you may realize how unusual this is, because normally I only support indies! And I welcomed the chance to have Natalie Bahm on my blog.

Take it away, Natalie!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   * 

Want to Write More?  Get a Critique Partner.

A year ago I was so frustrated with writing I almost quit.

My life was chaotic, thanks mostly to my four little children.  I hadn’t finished a book in over two years.  I felt guilty about not making time to write.

I decided I needed a real critique partner—someone I could trade pages with on a daily basis.  I wanted someone who would push me to finish a book.  This person was Wen Baragrey.

Wen and I started sharing books about a year ago.  Since then, we’ve both written two complete books and started several more.  I’ve written more pages this year than just about every year before combined. 

This is why:

                  1) For me, being accountable on a daily basis is CRUCIAL.  Before I started working with Wen, I didn’t write regularly.  I needed to know someone was waiting for the story—someone I didn’t want to disappoint—before I felt motivated to get my daily writing done.

                 2) Reading her writing made me want work harder.  Wen is an amazing writer, but more than that, she’s brilliant at some of the things that I struggle with—like description and humor.  Reading her stuff makes me push harder when writing my own. I’m a way stronger writer now than I was a year ago.

                3)She is ALWAYS positive about the first draft.  I believe that once a manuscript is done you need a  harsh critique or two… or ten.  But during a first draft there’s no such a thing as too much praise.

Wen has taught me that positive reinforcement is important.  As writers we’re hard on ourselves.  If I had a dollar for every time I think I should quit writing because I suck and I’ll never be good enough, I’d be a rich woman.  I’ve realized it’s essential to have a voice in our lives counteracting that negative self-talk. 

Wen is also the biggest reason that my first book, The Secret Underground, is out now.  Wen’s grandson, Jayden, has been very ill since birth and her daughter and son-in-law have struggled to pay the bills.  I felt like I needed to do something to help them.

I called my agent, Sara Megibow, and asked if we could do a book for Jayden.  She thought it was a great idea. Wen spent countless hours reading and rereading the book, offering critiques and advice, and drawing the beautiful interior illustrations. 

All profits from sales of The Secret Underground go directly to Jayden’s family. You can read more about the project here. The paperback version is available on Amazon.  The eBook can be purchased just about anywhere eBooks are sold.  The audiobook is available through iTunes, Audible, and Amazon.  The paperback will be available through more booksellers soon.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Natalie. Readers, please consider helping Baby Jayden by buying the book!

Friday, November 9, 2012

And the winner of TOUCHING THE SURFACE is...

According to the winner of the hardcover copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE, Kimberly Sabatini's stunning debut novel, (plus the cool swag) is:


Congratulations, Christina!  Expect an email from me asking for your mailing address, so I can get this out to you as soon as possible!

And never fear, there will be other giveaways in the near future. Happy reading.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Giveaway Winner! And Random Acts of Reading

First, it's my pleasure to announce the winner of the signed, hardcover copy of GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES by Mike Jung.  According to, the winner is:


Congratulations, Erik!  Expect an email from me very soon, asking for your mailing address.

*   *   *

Now, instead of an MMGM post here today, go check out my contribution to Random Acts of Reading's book blogger panel, where this month we're talking about backlist books that deserve your attention.

Next week's MMGM: guest blogger Natalie Bahm!

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Messenger. She has the links, or you can check out my sidebar.

Friday, November 2, 2012

I was going to write about PiBoIdMo... but then this storm came along...

The news has been saturated with the endless coverage of Sandy and its aftermath so I'll keep this short.

We were lucky here in my little corner of Pennsylvania. We didn't even lose power for more than 1 minute! My parents were not quite as lucky. They just got their power back after two and a half days.

But a lot of people in New Jersey and New York, especially, were not at all lucky.  Their lives have been changed forever. Please take a moment to think of them as you go about your day.  Sometimes pictures really do say it best. The most haunting photos I've seen are these from Reuters.

In addition, if you feel moved to give money to the disaster relief, you can go directly to the donation page of the American Red Cross right here.

OR, you can bid on the wonderful auction items -- including critiques from some pretty famous authors -- at Kid-Lit Cares (all donations going to Red Cross relief effort for Sandy).  See Kate Messner's website for details.

*   *   *   *   *

Good luck to everyone who signed up for NaNoWriMo. I can't handle it, myself. That's not how I write.

Maggie Stiefvater explained it most eloquently: I don’t have a problem with other people doing NaNoWriMo. If that’s what it takes to motivate you, go for it. If you work well that way, go for it (not that you were sitting around, waiting for my approval). But for my style of writing, for my creative process, it will literally never work. I cannot knowingly write crap. I just can’t. I can and do write crap, but I can’t realize that I’m doing it at the time. Read the rest of her Annual Dear John Letter to NaNoWriMo here

But after visiting Caroline Starr Rose's blog yesterday and finding out that she's participating in a different activity this November, I realized... hey, I can handle that!  I've done it before (in 2010).

This year's logo is by Ward Jenkins

What's PiBoIdMo?  Picture Book Idea Month! All you have to do is come up with 30 new ideas for picture books. You don't even have to write them yet.  PiBoIdMo was created by the one and only Tara Lazar. Visit Tara's PiBoIdMo page for all the details and to sign up.  Quick! While you still have time!

And you still have time to enter my two giveaways.  

Enter here for GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES. But hurry! Giveaway ends tomorrow night!

Enter here for TOUCHING THE SURFACE. Giveaway ends Wed November 7.

What about you?  Did you sign up for NaNo?  Or PiBoIdMo?  Or are you plugging away at a revision on your own?  Yay for you!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ready for Sandy... and a Giveaway Reminder

As I'm writing this blog post (on Saturday afternoon, Oct 27, 2012), Hurricane Sandy (or "Frankenstorm") is roaring toward the East coast of the US, and will undoubtedly pound us with a one-two punch by Monday. I'm as ready as I'll ever be.

Good book to read?

 Check. (Thanks, Mariga)





Three bags of chocolate candy? 


Well, if Trick or Treat gets canceled,  someone has to eat it all! 

I actually learned from Hurricane Irene in August 2011 not to worry about stocking up on raw chicken or beef or anything else that requires cooking (since we lost power for days and I had to throw it all out in the end).  Instead I have an assortment of foods we can eat as is: bananas, apples, carrots, two loaves of bread, two jars of peanut butter, grape jelly, cans of tuna, lots of cheese and crackers, juice, cans of almonds.  I also have two bags of cough drops and plenty of Nyquil.  Yes, I'm sick.  My husband went out and bought me the bags of cough drops this morning, and also the last 5 miserable bananas in the grocery store.  Why are bananas the first food to sell out when a storm is coming?

If the forecasters are right about those high winds, and we do lose power, I may not be visiting anyone's blog on Monday.  I'll get to you later in the week, I hope.  In the meantime, I wanted to remind you that I have TWO giveaways going on right now:

Enter here to win a SIGNED hardcover copy of GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES by Mike Jung.  You have until Saturday November 3 at 10 pm EDT. International entries welcome.

Enter here to win a hardcover copy of TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini, plus a load of swag.  You have until Wednesday, November 7 at 10 pm EST.  Again, international entries welcome.

Stay safe, everyone!  See you on the other side.